Books by Joel Stewart

THE COW TRIPPED OVER THE MOON by Jeanne Willis
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 12, 2015

"Children just graduating from nursery rhymes will find this a hoot. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Hey-diddle-diddle! Nursery-rhyme EMTs rescue stranded characters from "Mother Goose." In verse! Read full book review >
DEXTER BEXLEY AND THE BIG BLUE BEASTIE ON THE ROAD by Joel Stewart
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 2010

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie are at it again in this entertaining sequel to their eponymous debut (2007). One day Dexter and his big blue friend decide to hoot on their horns so loud it gets them thrown out of town. This doesn't seem to faze the musical pair, and they continue hooting in the forest, where they run into the "tremendously charming" Sir Percy Pecket, who asks them to use their hooting to wake up his beloved princess. She has apparently been sleeping for days. The hooting does the trick, and she joins them on their musical fairy tale, the requisite dragon included. There is definitely a random feel to the narrative, and the plot points, like the characters, seem to leap out of the bushes, but the world Stewart creates both visually and textually is so effervescently silly that all will be forgiven. Hurried black lines filled in with blobs of blues, greens and purples match the dashed-off spontaneity, and typography as well as speech bubbles work dynamically with the pictorial compositions. Readers will be perfectly happy just to be on the ride. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
RED TED AND THE LOST THINGS by Michael Rosen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2009

Red Ted, accidentally left behind, is deposited in the Place for Lost Things. Determined to find the little girl who loves him, he escapes the cavernous closet of forgotten toys. A naysaying crocodile and cheese-craving cat join Ted's expedition, and together they search for friendship, family and food in this charming tale. Both text and illustrations evoke time-tested teddy-bear classics such as Corduroy, with its toy-comes-alive point of view, and Paddington and Winnie-the-Pooh, with delicately penciled characters clearly defined against subtly drawn backgrounds. Crocodile serves as Red Ted's foil, much like Pooh's Eeyore, highlighting the bear's sweet temperament and determined attitude. Stewart's dense environments, filled with texture and intricate details, create a rich world for Rosen's heroes, and his use of graphic novel-type panels offers a good introduction to sequential-image storytelling. A satisfying tale for all involved, from the adopted crocodile, satiated cat and found teddy bear to the readers who will delight in this sweet adventure. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A SNEEP? by Tasha Pym
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

In this deliciously silly rhyming read-aloud from Great Britain, a boy asks readers if they've ever had their picnics pinched by a Sneep or their peaceful reading time ruined by a deafening Snook or "Surely you've spied a Floon and thought, / ‘Of all the curious things!' / Gone in to take a closer look… / and discovered that it springs?" He is surprised each time the reader's answer seems to be no ("Not ever?" "What?!") and decides if the readers' lives are truly so trouble-free, "I'm coming to live with you!" (Unbeknownst to him, the pesky creatures are right on his heels.) Stewart's soft watercolors are thoroughly charming, and the intrusive beasts in their old-timey get-ups are comical and only borderline creepy, from the bulky, pink, bald, bespectacled Sneep (in her pointed shoes and yellow, polka-dotted dress) to the hippo-like Grullock with cauliflower and spider influences and the tiny, tutu-sporting Floon. The elegantly spare composition, clean design and few words perfectly suit the call-and-response format. Giggles are guaranteed. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
ADDIS BERNER BEAR FORGETS by Joel Stewart
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 6, 2008

Addis Berner Bear, a brown bear, arrives in a large, nameless city amidst the chaos of swirling snow, speeding cars and rushing holiday shoppers. Totally overwhelmed by the city's dizzying pace, Addis forgets why he has come and finds himself wandering aimlessly through the city streets searching for purpose. A sharp eye will pick out pictorial clues alluding to that purpose embedded in exquisite full-page illustrations that hint at the silent story: that Addis has forgotten or lost his passion to be the world's best trumpet-playing bear—a message that younger readers may need some help with. Created in light, loose watercolors, these illustrations project Addis's heavy sadness, which is lifted with the help of a few unlikely friends, the coming of spring and the triumphant rediscovery of his talent. Written in spare rhythmic language, the text lends itself to being read aloud; however, a close inspection of the illustrations is absolutely necessary for full understanding and enjoyment of this subtle, lovely tale. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
DEXTER BEXLEY AND THE BIG BLUE BEASTIE by Joel Stewart
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 15, 2007

When a little boy encounters a fantastical creature, he uses his imagination to keep his new friend entertained. Dexter Bexley accidentally rides his scooter into a Big Blue Beastie who threatens to eat the "small and tasty" Dexter. But Dexter has a "much better idea," and invites the Beastie to go scooting with him. Soon the Beastie is bored and hungry again, so Dexter proposes a "much better idea," and the enterprising duo start a successful flower-delivery business until the Beastie becomes bored and hungry. Dexter swiftly suggests another "much better idea" and the playful pair become "Bexley and Beast: Private Detectives," solving imaginative mysteries like the Missing Marmoset and The Great Sausage Heist. But how long can Dexter come up with better ideas to assuage Beastie's seemingly insatiable appetite? Beastie himself eventually offers a solution. Very whimsical line-and-color illustrations focus on the not-too-scary, but quite rotund Beastie in his striped T-shirt and bowler hat cavorting and capering with his new playmate. Fanciful fun. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
TALES OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN by Hans Christian Andersen
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

Hans Christian Andersen wrote more than 160 stories, 13 of which are retold by critic Lewis and revitalized with Stewart's winsome, quirky illustrations in this hefty, beautiful collection. Lewis opens with a four-page introduction to the life of the "unquenchable maverick" of humble origins, also prefacing each story with an engaging, scholarly critical history. She translates well-known favorites such as "Thumbelina" and "The Tinderbox" and, more obscure, "The Goblin at the Grocer's," in a lively, accessible style, retaining 19th-century charm and vocabulary without a hint of stiffness. While adult lovers of children's literature will appreciate the historical material provided, young newcomers to Andersen will relish "The Princess and the Pea," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "The Ugly Duckling," "The Little Match Girl," and other stories that have woven their way into Western literary tradition. The elegant design tips a hat to Andersen's interest in miniature theatre, as the opening story illustrations are flanked by a red velvet curtain. Lovely. (All ages)Read full book review >
JABBERWOCKY by Lewis Carroll
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2003

It would be hard not to end up with an outstanding result when starting with such brilliant material as Carroll's "Jabberwocky," but Stewart's mixed-media illustrations suit the wry humor of this nonsense poem so perfectly it's hard to imagine it being interpreted as well by anyone else since Tenniel himself. The wide, thin-lipped visage of the Jabberwock is particularly reminiscent of Tenniel's drawings and provides a tribute to the definitive illustrator of Carroll's work. But there are many original touches, such as the clockwork inner workings of the beast and the imagining of what exactly things like "slithy toves," "borogoves," and "mome raths" are (here, various imaginary forest denizens, some of them birdlike, who relax in hammocks and play accordions). The dusky palette of tan, olive, dusty purple, pale blue, and brick red outlined in thin brown lends an antique feel, as does the pseudo-medieval costume worn by the boy as he hunts the "maxnome foe." Far from being frightening, the Jabberwock is positively dapper in his top hat and high, stiff collar, and the fact that his insides are mechanical keeps his dismemberment from being gory. It's helpful that the poem is printed in its entirety at the beginning, so readers and listeners can get their own imaginations started before digging in. This brilliantly original, yet respectful new rendering of an old favorite reminds those who've read it before of the infinite possibilities and pure fun in its interpretation, and will bring its delightful nonsense to a whole new audience. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE ADVENTURES OF A NOSE by Viviane Schwarz
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2001

Schwarz and Stewart, in their first effort, have created a charming, original twist on the old "where-do-I-fit-in" theme, with a runaway nose looking for his special place in the world, "a place to fit in and stick out." He trots along in proper gray slacks and brown lace-up shoes (with his legs extending from his nostrils), traveling around his town (a library, a restaurant, a theater) and then sniffing out new locations around the world (a mountaintop, an iceberg, a Middle Eastern market). In each setting, as the nose pauses, elements of the background provide eyes and a mouth, subtly showing that he does indeed fit in wherever he goes. At last, he consults a doctor, who explains that the world must fit around a nose, who is by nature in the middle, sticking out. The final spread shows the nose in an exuberantly existential tabletop dance, celebrating with characters from the previous pages. Stewart's stylish, witty illustrations offer one full-page illustration (with the fun of finding the eyes and mouth) and smaller, related illustrations on the facing pages that complement the text. Will this beautifully designed story help children on their own existential journeys to both fit in with the crowd and yet stand out as individuals? Who knows? (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >